I host a poetry series at a local independent book store. Poetry Aloud and Alive has been alive for a decade at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore. My poetry has appeared in Mad Poets Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Fox Chase Review among others. It is available on <http://www.mikecohensays.com/>
It can happen to anyone a poet encounters.
One moment you are an ordinary person,
climbing a stairway,
idling in a doorway,
descending into the subway,
and the next moment
there you are -
symbol of ambition,
soul of indolence,
spirit of the passage to perdition.
Gratuitously and mercilessly
a poet wields the wand of metaphor
to impose import upon the mundane, and
fixing figurative focus on your finite flesh,
annexes from you some aura,
extracts from you some essence,
fashions from you
something that flutters colorfully away
after the metaphorosis.
Characters will be Characters
No sooner do I write them into existence
than my characters proceed to teach me about free will
by not doing my will.
I have the power to make them,
but not to make them do as I please.
Though I define them,
they defy me.
And as I lose control of my composition, I lose my composure.
“Damn you!” I exclaim bitterly
and crumple my characters into balled litter
and throw them away.
Yet afterward, I hear them whispering in the waste can
and tittering at some private joke.
They were not even supposed to be comic characters.
They were intended to convey certain serious ideas I had.
Now I get the idea that they
have something much more interesting to say,
but (damn them!) they
have apparently decided
(among themselves, of all things)
not to let me in on it.
Ideas Just Come
Ideas just come, and I almost could swear -
Though they enter my mind, they don’t start out in there.
Ideas just come, and I can’t tell from where.
Ideas just come; and this much I can say:
They aren’t from outer space,
But from so much nearer and further away –
From somewhere that isn’t a place.
They come in a torrent, they come in an ooze,
In fragments or fully intact,
Perhaps from that extra-proverbial Muse,
Or something at least as abstract.
They come crashing like a waterfall
Or shushing like a stream.
They don’t come running when I call,
But sometimes, when I dream…
They make me loquacious and then strike me dumb
So I cannot seem to express
What may be their source. I just know that they come
And I know nothing more, nothing less.
Ideas just come and then disappear
Back to somewhere that isn’t a place.
And if you don’t seize them the moment they’re here
They’ll be gone without leaving a trace.
How Everything Doesn't Come
For a poet, the best would be for a poem to come out right
bursting full blown from your brain
like Athena from the head of Zeus
with no need of rearing, nurturing or coddling.
…Done at once, once and done, alla prima,
the way everything should come,
without the fits and false starts,
the faltering and floundering and blundering down blind alleys….
But sure as it took more than a day to build Rome,
it took more than six to build the universe, and heaven knows
there remain kinks and wrinkles that still require ironing out.
Yet in some perfect city, in some perfect world,
on some perfect day,
some poem may just come out right
©2015 Mike Cohen